Thursday, May 9, 2013

Reducing Toxins Part 3: Personal Care Products

This is the third post in my series on reducing exposure to toxins.  Today I will be sharing ways to reduce your exposure to toxins through personal care products.  These are products that go on your body and are absorbed into your skin including the skin in your mouth.  The skin is an effective way to transport substances (both good and bad) into the body.  Also these products often are chemically scented allowing them to enter your body and the bodies of those around you through the airways.  This means if you are wearing something with fragrance (or any other chemical that "off gases"), your children are being exposed to it by breathing near you.  Remember from part 1 of this series that children's smaller bodies build up higher toxicity levels. 

Many products are listed in the  EWG database of personal care products with toxicity rating from 0-10.  You might want to search for some of the ones that you currently use to get a better idea of what kinds of toxins are in them.  There are a variety of options for natural personal care products.  I have friends who formulate many of their own, including shampoo, soap and toothpaste.  I am not quite so industrious.  Below are the personal care products that I currently use.
Makeup:  Signature Minerals makeup (You can get very nice free samples.)

Lip moisturizer/gloss:  100% pure lanolin from sheep's wool (purchased at Whole Foods)
Shampoo & Conditioner:   Aubrey Organics.  It is carried at Whole Foods and Drug Emporium locally, but I purchase mine from Vitacost (See the right side bar for a link for $10 off your first order.)

Face and body soap:  Dr. Bronner's liquid castile soap - all natural liquid soap.  I dilute with water and put this in foam pumps (purchased from eBay) beside every sink and bathtub.  (We use it for hands, faces, bodies , dishes, sinks and bathtubs.)  Dr. Bronner's can be purchase by the gallon locally at Drug Emporium or on-line at Vitacost.
Deodorant: baking soda patted under armpits while still damp after showering. I keep a       parmesan shaker filled with baking soda by each sink and bathtub (more about that in part 4 of this series).  Do not put baking soda under armpits right after shaving.  Baking soda is irritating for some people, coconut oil is another option.  Rock salt crystals can be purchased at health food stores (This is what my husband uses).  We do not use antiperspirant.  I don't want to block my body's ability to eliminate toxins.  Reducing toxic food has made a huge impact on reducing underarm odor.   

Exfoliant:  sprinkle baking soda into my hand, add a squirt of Dr. Bronner's and scrub gently. 
Moisturizer:  I rarely need any moisturizer.  I think because there is lots of good fats in my diet.  When I need something, I use coconut oil or NWC Naturals MSM lotion

Haircolor: I keep a spray bottle filled with hydrogen peroxide to spray  occasionally on my hair while it is still damp to lighten it.  This only works for people who already have a light hair color.  It will turn dark hair red.  Whole Foods carries some natural hair colors.

Mouthwash:  Diluted hydrogen peroxide
Sunscreen: Badger (zinc oxide plus natural ingredients)

Fragrance: We strictly avoid chemical fragrances in personal care products and any other products used in our home.  Be aware that "unscented" products may contain a "masking fragrance."  Check the ingredients for the word "fragrance." 

The excerpt below is from Not So Sexy" by the Environmental Working Group

The average fragrance product tested contained 14 secret chemicals not listed on the label. Among them are chemicals associated with hormone disruption and allergic reactions, and many substances that have not been assessed for safety in personal care products. 

 Also in the ranks of undisclosed ingredients are chemicals with troubling hazardous properties or with a propensity to accumulate in human tissues. These include diethyl phthalate, a chemical found in 97 percent of Americans (Silva 2004) and linked to sperm damage in human epidemiological studies (Swan 2008), and musk ketone, a synthetic fragrance ingredient that concentrates in human fat tissue and breast milk (Hutter 2009; Reiner 2007)

....When sprayed or applied on the skin, many chemicals from perfumes, cosmetics and personal care products are inhaled. Others are absorbed through the skin. Either way, many of these chemicals can accumulate in the body. As a result, the bodies of most Americans are polluted with multiple cosmetics ingredients. This pollution begins in the womb and continues through life. 

A recent EWG study found Galaxolide and Tonalide, two synthetic musks, in the cord blood of newborn babies (EWG 2009). Both musks contaminate people and the environment worldwide, have been associated with toxicity to the endocrine system (van der Burg 2008) and were identified in the majority of products tested for this study. Similarly, a pregnant woman’s use of some fragrances and other cosmetics frequently may expose her growing fetus to diethyl phthalate (DEP), a common perfume solvent linked to abnormal development of reproductive organs in baby boys and sperm damage in adult men (Washington Toxics Coalition 2009). New research also links prenatal exposure of DEP to clinically diagnosed Attention Deficit Disorder in children (Engel 2010). This analysis found DEP in 12 of 17 products tested, at levels ranging from 30 parts per million (ppm) to 32,000 ppm in Eternity for Women.

Reducing the use of unnecessary personal care items can save a lot of money.  I believe beautiful skin comes from the inside out.  Our skin is a huge detoxifing organ,  so a good way to develop a nice complexion is to eat healthy and reduce the chemicals that go INTO and ONTO ourselves.  That being the case,  if you decide to start eliminating chemically laden skin care products as well as chemicals in your food, it may be necessary to be patient and give your skin some time to "detox."   In addition,  partially hydrogenated oils (found in almost all processed foods) are damaging to skin, while the omega-3s in fish oil are helpful.   Here's a really good article on how to nourish your skin.   

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